Upholding the government’s right to protect the public, the Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the phaseout of 15-year-old buses, a move seen by transport groups as anti-poor.
In the 18-page decision penned by Associate Justice Maria Elisa Sempio Diy dated July 1, the CA’s 12th Division affirmed the order of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) phasing out old and rickety buses. The ruling was concurred in by Associate Justices Ramon Bato and Manuel Barrios.
The National Confederation of Transport Workers and the Samahan ng mga Operator, Tsuper at Konduktor ng mga Mini Bus sa Katagalugan assailed the order for being unconstitutional.
But the CA said the DOTC and LTFRB, as regulators of the government, have the power to secure the safety of the riding public.
“While we truly commiserate with the plight of the petitioners who are affected by the assailed issuances, we cannot legally bar respondents DOTC and LTFRB from exercising their mandate crafting and achieving the effective implementation of a comprehensive and rationalized national land transport plan,” the appellate court said.
“In the exercise of police power, property rights or individuals may be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to fulfill the objectives of the government. Verily, the government may enact legislation that may interfere with personal liberty, property, lawful businesses, and occupations to promote the general welfare,” it added.
The CA cited numerous vehicular accidents that snuffed out so many lives because of old and defective vehicles.
“The right to life enjoys precedence over the right to property. The reason is obvious: life is irreplaceable, property is not. When the State’s exercise of police power clashes with a few individuals’ right to property, the former should prevail,” it pointed out.
The court said the DOTC and LTFRB did not commit grave abuse of discretion when the agencies issues orders stopping the use of old buses.
“This court recognizes the aim of the transport authorities concerned to establish a modern transport system intended to make the public more safe and secure while commuting,” it stressed.